We’re often asked what the best settings are for your camera when driving around a game reserve. The thing with wildlife photography (and a few other genres as well) is that, for the most part, you have no idea what’s going to pop up next. And, in many cases, when whatever it is, does pop up, you have to be onto it in an instant – no messing around with settings, exposures, white balance etc. So, what I do is set my camera up as follows:
We were in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania shooting pictures for our African Icons book. I was in the back of the game drive vehicle, the Nikon D7100 and AF-S 80 – 400 on my lap and we’d pretty much wrapped it up for the morning and were slowly heading back to camp. Out of the blue, this young leopard charged. We had no idea she was there or why she took offence… I saw her out the corner of my eye, coming from the right and slightly behind us. I picked up the camera and let rip – not even bothering to look through it – I just pointed the camera and blazed away. I doubt whether the whole incident took more than 2 seconds. Now, it’s not the world’s finest pic of a charging leopard but it is a photograph of a charging leopard. I got it! No time for setting exposures, focus point, focus mode or anything else. Hell, there wasn’t even time to look through the camera!
Once you have the image in the bag you can then afford to play – to get creative.
Roger de la Harpe